COLUMBUS - When Evan Turner went down for Ohio State everyone knew that someone would have to step up and fill the void left in the lineup. On Wednesday night David Lighty played the role of hero going off for 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Buckeyes (10-2) flirted with disaster at times before pulling away with a 72-59 win against Cleveland State (4-9).
There were some moments where the Vikings looked like they may find new life as the Buckeyes never really found any sort of rhythm and Cleveland State was paced by 25 points (5-8 from 3-point) by Jeremy Montgomery. But that was overshadowed by Lighty's performance, the first 30-point game by a Buckeye since Jamar Butler put up 32 points against Illinois the first weekend of January 2008.
"We were still into the flow of the offense and just running plays that coach called out," Lighty said. "(There) wasn't anything special that I tried to do."
Lighty only put up eight in the first half but stepped up large when he needed to. The Ohio State junior started off his own personal run at the 13:12 mark when he threw down a highlight reel worthy dunk and then ran off 15 of the next 16 points for the Buckeyes. During that stretch the Buckeyes widened their lead to 14 points and never looked back.
"There are still things that I need to work on and get better at," Lighty said. "The turnovers that I had and the bad shots that I had. It is 30 points but I would rather have two points and a win."
Cleveland State knew what was coming but sometimes there is nothing that can be done when someone is having a career night.
"We knew Lighty was a driver but we were just telling our guys to guard him because the only way he was going was right," Montgomery said. "Kept telling (guys) to guard him that way but I guess he just had that first step getting to the basket."
And the games are not going to get any easier for the Buckeyes with the Big Ten schedule getting underway on New Year's Eve. Was this run by Lighty reminiscent of what Evan Turner has done in the past?
"Evan would have taken it upon himself," point guard P.J. Hill said. "We would have looked at him and he would have looked at us and told us to give him the ball. (Dave) just made plays down the stretch and took advantage of it and nobody was helping."
The Buckeyes were able to neutralize one of CSU's top performers by holding Norris Cole to zero points and 0-10 shooting. The troubles continued with a 6-1 turnover to assist ratio and that put the Vikings at a great disadvantage.
"When your point guard turns the ball over four straight times you are in trouble," Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters said.
That didn't stop Cleveland State from staying close. Ohio State opened up a 13-3 lead going into the first media timeout and during the next four minute run that lead shrunk to one point as the Buckeyes went ice cold and CSU picked it up.
"I am happy that we got the win but not satisfied," Lauderdale said. "We still didn't play to our best capability in stretches. The second four minutes of the game they blitzed for us a 0-9 run. We can't let that happen if we want to compete at the level we are trying to get to."
Ohio State head coach Thad Matta was able to regain the reigns of the team after that and while things were not pretty at times got his team to do enough to win the game.
"We lost our composure in the second four minutes and we were turning it over at an alarming rate and I think we were rushing things," Matta said. "In the second half I thought we did a pretty good job of executing what we wanted to get and try and get the ball in the right guys hands."
Cleveland natives Lauderdale and Lighty will have the happiest holidays of all of the Buckeyes by not having to head home with a tough loss. The team breaks until Saturday for practice and that will give everyone a chance to spend time with their families and enjoy the break with a solid win.
"What will be the best is when (Dave and I) are Christmas shopping the next of days, we won't have to hear the nonsense," Lauderdale joked. "If we would have taken the L people would have been coming up to us (mockingly saying) 'what happened against Cleveland State'."
Cleveland State leads the nation in free throw attempts against and the Buckeyes went to the line 31 times. That played into Ohio State's plans of getting to the hoop and going to the line. But the Buckeyes did leave a handful of points at the charity stripe.
"(I was) just being aggressive pretty much and attacking as much as possible an trying to get to the line," Lighty said. "I finally made some free throws, I am shooting like Shaq right now."
But Lauderdale was there to pick up the slack at the line. It seems hard to believe but the Ohio State big man looked somewhat comfortable at the line and found his stroke when the Buckeyes needed it.
"I was six of seven today, thank you I appreciate it," Lauderdale added.
Ohio State: Lighty 30, Buford 13, Lauderdale 12, Diebler 9
Cleveland State: Montgomery 25, Brown 7, Ajere 7
Ohio State: Lauderdale 8, Lighty 7, Buford 5
Cleveland State: Brown 9, Ajere 7, Pogue 5
Ohio State: Lighty 5, Buford 4, Hill 3
Cleveland State: Brown 2, Montgomery 2